The shows you think had the best year in 2016, at least in terms of ratings? Well, you were right. They did.
Much has been written about “The Walking Dead’s” decline in Season 7, and its dropoff after a huge season premiere was real and significant. But it was still far and away the No. 1 show among adults 18-49 in 2016, and among the Top 5 in total viewers.
Broadcast TV shows dominate both the 18-49 and viewer lists below. Cable and streaming shows are dominant in terms of awards and cultural cachet, but the shows people watch the most are overwhelmingly on network TV. (Cable shows fare a little better in the 18-49 rankings, with three of the Top 10 spots; only “The Walking Dead” lands in the Top 20 in viewers.)
“The Big Bang Theory” was the most-watched series of the year at just under 20 million viewers. Other CBS shows (“NCIS,” “Bull” and “NCIS: New Orleans”) make up four of the Top 5.
Here are the 20 highest-rated and most-watched shows (excluding live sports) for the calendar year 2016 — which means parts of two TV seasons for most shows. All the averages below (with a couple of exceptions, noted with asterisks) include live viewing plus seven days of DVR and on-demand playback, and are for original telecasts only.
|Rank||Show||Network||# of episodes||18-49 rating||18-49 viewers (millions)|
|1||The Walking Dead||AMC||16||8.8||11.27|
|2||The Big Bang Theory*||CBS||24||5.5||6.99|
|Game of Thrones||HBO||10||5.3||6.73|
|6||This Is Us||NBC||10||4.6||5.86|
|9||American Horror Story: Roanoke||FX||10||3.4||4.37|
|11||America’s Got Talent – Tuesday||NBC||14||3.2||4.07|
|12||Fear the Walking Dead||AMC||15||3.1||3.94|
|The Voice – Monday||NBC||26||3.1||3.93|
|The People v. O.J. Simpson||FX||10||3.1||3.93|
|American Idol – Wednesday||FOX||9||3.1||3.87|
|16||The Voice – Tuesday||NBC||22||3.0||3.82|
*The average for “The Big Bang Theory” includes Live +3 ratings for the Dec. 15 episode.
|Rank||Show||Network||# of episodes||Viewers (millions)|
|1||The Big Bang Theory*||CBS||24||19.94|
|3||The Walking Dead||AMC||16||17.89|
|5||NCIS: New Orleans||CBS||22||15.17|
|6||This Is Us||NBC||10||14.63|
|8||America’s Got Talent – Tuesday||NBC||14||14.20|
|America’s Got Talent – Wednesday||NBC||8||13.46|
|13||Dancing With the Stars||ABC||21||13.07|
|14||Little Big Shots||NBC||8||13.05|
|15||The Voice – Tuesday||NBC||21||12.77|
|16||NCIS: Los Angeles*||CBS||23||12.77|
|17||The Voice – Monday||NBC||25||12.76|
*Averages for “The Big Bang Theory,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Hawaii Five-0” and “Madam Secretary” include Live +3 ratings for episodes that aired the week of Dec. 12.
Source: The Nielsen Company